These boobs were made for working

Along with getting used to being back at work these past couple of weeks, I’ve also been balancing working and breastfeeding. I’m happy to say it’s been much easier than I was expecting. In fairness, my flexible working hours mean I’m not rushing in the morning so we’ve time for breakfast and then a little feed in the morning before we head off. S is doing really well during the day drinking his water and eating his meals at crèche. Once we’re together again in the evening, he’s having another feed straightaway which is then followed by a long, leisurely feed at bedtime which he’s enjoying for a long old time!

Since he’s been sick he’s actually sleeping much better and he’s only waking once or twice at night. We’re putting him down in his cot but if he wakes when we’re in bed ourselves, we pop him in with us where he has a little nurse and then we all snuggle down for a good sleep. If he needs a little nurse again later, off he goes and I usually doze through it. This is really working for us at the moment because we’re all getting a good rest and my God, do we need it!

I’ve had interesting reactions to my breastfeeding at work. I’m not shy about mentioning it because I don’t feel there’s anything unusual or wrong with feeding an 11 month old and I’m not prepared to be apologetic about it. I have seen some politely strained faces though, trying not to react but clearly perturbed. I’ve had a couple of comments but they’ve been made without the knowledge that my son doesn’t take a bottle, so people would be unfamiliar with how that’s managed and that’s okay.

The HR department have been great providing a room with a fridge for me to express in if I need to although really I’ve just needed to relieve the pressure once. I manually expressed, which I actually find really uncomfortable, so I’ve been carting around my brilliant Medela Swing in my handbag but it hasn’t been necessary so far. I think I’ll give it til the end of the week and then leave it at home.

I had a very frustrating conversation with a doctor in the children’s hospital where we took S to be rehydrated when he was sick. I was so disappointed that we didn’t see eye to eye on breastfeeding because she was so brilliant, really sound and very attentive. She was about the same age as me. It felt like we had quickly built a rapport only for it to be knocked down when she compared breastfeeding my sick son to giving him dairy. She suggested it would upset his stomach more, like yoghurt or cream. No mention of the antibodies or the hydrating properties or the comfort it provided. Or that I’m not a cow. She actually recommended that I actively avoid nursing him until he was ready to hold down solids.

Look, I let it go…quiet in my confidence that continuing to feed him was the right thing to do. I was super indignant for about twenty minutes where I was mentally composing my strongly worded letter to the head of the hospital about not pursuing a pro-breastfeeding policy for sick babies. But you know what? I’ll pick my battles. We couldn’t have asked for better care delivered with such speed and not everyone gets to say that, do they?

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Back to work chaos

Back to the grindstone

Back to work chaos

Well what a first week back it has been. I’m still reeling from the last seven days and yet I also don’t have that “back to work” feeling. I think the glorious sunshine has had something to do with it or maybe it’s because routine hasn’t set in just yet.

After a really successful trial week in the creche, it all went pear-shaped last week when poor baby S got a terrible bout of gastro-enteritis which lasted a full seven days and involved one visit to the out of hours doctor; one late night trip to the children’s hospital; a very hot uncomfortable exhausted little baby who couldn’t keep a thing down and whose little body just kept retching involunatarily long after his stomach was empty; and a very tired mum and dad who managed to keep the show on the road but with only a 50 per cent attendance at work. It was tough going but we made it to the end of the week. Routine and order were flung out the window in favour of little monkey cuddles and cold sponge baths. I think every towel in the house is piled up on the floor waiting to be folded after more than one post-vomity spin in the machine.

The baby is very much on the mend now but quickly forgot about his week in the crèche and is very upset with us these last couple of days. It’s oh so very hard to hand him to someone else, albeit a wonderfully competent and warm crèche worker, and have to walk away…

Being back at work in itself is strange. I’ve been gone for so long but everything feels exactly the same. I almost wish it felt different because I feel different. I’ve had this monumental change in my life where there’s a new little human and I’m his mama but it turns out nothing’s changed for everyone else! It’s a bit disheartening at the moment but maybe that’s because this is all new. I had a light bulb moment yesterday at my desk where I suddenly asked myself what I was doing here? Not in a “I should be home with my baby way” (I do feel that too) but in a “am I doing justice to my son, my skills, my abilities, my hopes, my dreams by doing this job right here right now?” way. Should I be pursuing passion and excellence? If I’m going to work and be away from my baby, should the work be really meaningful and worthy of consuming my family’s time? Or then again, do I need to embrace this wonderfully flexible and supportive workplace I’m in – regardless of the individual work that I do – and take advantage of it to the benefit of my family, at least for the foreseeable future?

This is just what is running through my head at the moment and perhaps it’s fleeting as I settle back in. But maybe there’s something stirring in me. Time will tell I suppose…

 

Related posts:

Back to the grindstone

First-time mums-to-be need to read this

Or more specifically, first-time mums-to-be who are planning to breastfeed should read this great article from the online breastfeeding information Mecca that is Kelly Mom.

I stumbled upon this last night when I was looking for material to show to a doctor who referred to my breastmilk as “dairy”. ( A story for another day because it hasn’t ended yet…). Basically it’s important information about your baby’s “second night”. I wish I had read it before S was born because I really struggled that night. I didn’t understand what was happening, I was exhausted and somewhere floating around the back of my mind was something a midwife had said to me that day about the baby using me as a soother that I took completely out of context and blew out of proportion. Very early in the morning, inconsolable baby, wrecked, confused and feeling totally out of my depth, I remember at one point going downstairs, sitting and bouncing on my birth ball, and singing him songs I thought he might remember and soothe him, in an effort to get him to sleep and not “turn me into a soother”.

I think this article would have made that night and that experience very different. Hey, you know my motto by now, information is power. 🙂

Things I learned #3: night sweats – sexy!

I am a natural researcher. When I’m interested in subjects, I tend to read, read, read so that I can be as informed as possible.  Before I got pregnant and then during my pregnancy I took this approach, hungrily digesting all the literature I could until close to my due date I had overindulged and couldn’t touch another baby related book. I also found it very hard to see past the birth itself. I had some books on breastfeeding and baby care which I had flicked through but without any idea of what it was like to hold and touch my own tiny baby, it was very hard for me to concentrate on step by step instructions on baby bathing, latching on etc. So in actuality I missed out on a whole section of education – those delicate early days and weeks of new motherhood when the last thing you’d think of doing is touching a 400 pager. (Although my 8 page breastfeeding booklet from the community midwives was mottled with overuse.)

When I woke up in the middle of the night about a week after S was born so wet that I thought I had either peed all over myself or accidentally spilled a very large glass of water, I didn’t know what was happening to me.  My nightdress was saturated to the point where I could probably wring it out, my hair was stuck to my forehead and neck and my sheets were soaked all the way through. I had to get up, strip off and towel myself down. If it wasn’t for my sleeping baby and husband, I would have had a shower and changed the bed.

Then the next night the same thing happened again, and the next night, and the next night.  It was a bit scary actually. I’d never been a sweaty person and I tend to run on the cold side at the best of times so I couldn’t make any sense of it at all. I thought my body was broken. I was also bloody uncomfortable.  I was changing my night clothes and nursing bra twice a night. I had to wipe myself down and tie my hair up to keep it dry. I also started to sleep on a towel over the sheets to stave off the sheet changing. God knows there was enough other bodily fluids competing to ruin the sheets. (Breastmilk, lochia, saliva, tears, baby pee, baby puke – in case you were wondering.)

I was too embarrassed to mention it to the other women in my breastfeeding support group in case I was the only sweaty wonder. I also wasn’t seeing eye to eye with my public health nurse – a difference of philosophies, shall we call it? It wasn’t until my six week check with the GP that I found out it was night sweats. My hormones were telling my body to get rid of all the excess fluid still hanging around after pregnancy.  Not every woman experiences it apparently and it’s not related to breastfeeding. She didn’t half put the fear in me when she said she was still getting them six years after her last pregnancy! Shudder.

They stopped not long after that and I was very glad to be able to stay in bed and keep the same night dress on me all night. Six weeks was a long enough run. I was also very happy to explain them to a woman who brought it up at the breastfeeding support group a few weeks later and to give her some solidarity in her sweatiness.

So there you go – night sweats – one more thing I learned on the hoof on this exciting rollercoaster. Any other sweaty Bettys out there?

 

Related links:

Things I learned: a casual mini series

Things I learned #2: breast pads